Music

A Band on A Mission

Nik Freitas and the Head Gates

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Nik Freitas and the Head Gates are on a whirlwind tour promoting Missing Bones, their 2005 EP release. It's our good fortune that one of their stops is Boise (with guests Jackpot) because as great as the recorded music sounds, I imagine seeing it live is something not to be missed.

Freitas's music is evocative and full. He produces a sound seasoned beyond his musical years and on this most recent album, the sound is the richest yet. Part of that is surely due to talent and experience, but some of the credit has to go to the Head Gates, Freitas new back-up band. Drummer Paul Ellis and bassist Colin Schlitt joined Freitas on this album and also on the road to promote it. He met both musicians in L.A. (he actually found Colin on craigslist.com) and the three of them are, musically anyway, a perfect fit. Schlitt and Ellis's playing complement Freitas's rich lyrics and vocals, maintaining an O.C. surf-Elvis Costello-Built to Spill kind of vibe.

I wanted to chat with Freitas before the band's Neurolux show date, which meant I had to reach him on the road. After e-mails back and forth with his record company, Future Farmer records, I finally caught up with him on his cell phone while the band was on the road to a show in Bloomington, Indiana. Turns out Nik Freitas the man is different from Nik Freitas the product: His music is full of instrumentation and sound. Even his Web site is replete with colorful images. But Nik Freitas is succinct and to the point as I discovered while interviewing him ...

BW: I read that you did most of the instrumentation on your last two albums. Why the Head Gates on this one?

NF: Well, it was just easier.

(OK. Well, maybe there would be some lengthy discussion on the inspiration in his choice of name for his new backup/touring band ... )

Tell me how you got the name, the Head Gates.

It's a place I used to go drinking in Visalia, California when I was in high school.

(Alright, maybe the genius lies in the name of the album ... )

Why the title, Missing Bones?

I just thought it sounded cool.

(I expected a man with such a soulful voice, weighty lyrics and luscious melodies to be a little more chatty. I fell back on some more standard questions ... )

Who are some of your musical influences?

Wow. There are so many.

(long pause)

(cough) Um, tell me what music you're listening to right now.

Nothing. The music is off in the van.

(sigh) I meant, right now in your life. What music did you bring along for the trip?

Oh. Wilco. The Beatles are always good. 50 Cent.

Though I wasn't getting much, I didn't want to give up. I just tried to keep Freitas talking. After a few more questions, I found out he's been playing music since he was young-his first band was the Flamboyant Gestures, at the tender age of 10, and his friend Aaron wanted a picture of them flipping off the camera on the album cover. Freitas has been playing professionally for about the last three years and writes all of his own songs. He considers his music independent. Not indie rock, but definitely independent. Freitas and the Head Gates completed the 10 songs on Missing Bones in just three days and it's only available at their shows. Their shows. Turns out I inadvertently stumbled across a possible reason for his lack of loquaciousness ...

So, how are you holding up on this tour?

Barely.

Seems like more than 30 cities in just over 30 days is taking its toll on the band. According to Freitas, turnout has not been great. The band has gotten excited when more than 10 people come to a show. But they are committed to finishing the tour. And I'm thankful. Even though our conversation was short and simple, the music is sweet, smart and complicated, and I'm going to make sure that at least 11 people I know come out to hear them.

8 p.m., $3, Neurolux

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